Move to Meditate Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 7

Flow into Awareness

45 min - Practice
39 likes
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Ride the rhythm of the breath. Julian guides us in a flow practice with an emphasis on backbending postures—Salabhasana (Locust Pose), Dhanurasana (Bow Pose), and Ustrasana (Camel Pose)—in preparation for our seated meditation practice. You will feel aware and awake.

Click here to listen to the playlist Julian created to go along with this practice, then come back here start the above video at the same time to enjoy the full synchronized experience!
What You'll Need: Mat

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So welcome, we're going to start on the hands and knees as a way to transition into a flow practice. Join me here on your hands and knees and as soon as you're comfortable here we just start playing with arching and rounding and moving with breath. Breathing at your own pace, notice where you're starting from, you can play with rotations and spirals. If you've been doing this with me now through these episodes you're familiar and comfortable with this way of just warming up and getting into your body, moving with your breath. Let's do another 10 seconds, good on this inhale, drawing your chest through, tucking your toes onto the mat, we'll go to downward dog.

In your downward dog bending and straightening, just walk out those calves and Achilles tendons a little, say hello to your hamstrings. When you're ready we can press the heels down, lift the hips up and back, spread the fingers, let the shoulders get nice and broad and breathe here so the ribs move. You might shake out the head a little on the exhale and then we're stepping up to the hands, one foot and then the other, inhaling, flattening your back so you're on your fingertips here. Exhale folding nice and deep, you can have a little bend in the knees as needed here and we're going to sweep up to standing on the inhale. Lift up and lean back a little, exhale going to chair pose.

Take a moment here as you breathe, feel for engaging, belly, butt, inner thighs nice and stable and then rise up tall on the inhale and maintain that stability as you come onto your toes. On the exhale fold forward, inhale to something of a flat back here, we'll just step back to plank and exhale come down nice and slow, work on drawing the shoulders back as you go. Let's come into cobra on the inhale. So hips are down, legs are down, nice and active, chest drawing through the shoulders and on the exhale to downward dog, you might walk side to side again, keep warming up those legs and then press the heels down, lift the hips up and back, find your breath here. On your next exhale right leg goes up behind you, press away floor, reach through that leg take an inhale, on the exhale step all the way up, take that back foot over a little to the left and let's sweep the arms up into warrior one, find your slow deep breath here as you're ready float down the arms, clasp hands behind you drawing the shoulders back and down, take a full breath up high in your chest and on your exhale fold forward, head can hang, shoulders lift, I'm going to adjust my clasp, good, breathe up into your chest and on the exhale float the hands down, we're going to put a hand on either side of the front foot, readjust that back foot now so you feel comfortable and you're just on the toes of that back foot for this runner's lunge and now sweeping up the right arm to twist, get long, get light in your joints, press back through the back heel, reach through the top arm as you breathe here and then exhale, float the hand down, now we're going to put the back knee down, if you need it fold over the outer edge of your mat so you have a little extra padding under that knee, we're in this more basic lunge position, I want you to have the right hand on the right thigh and the left arm can reach up and over here, so we're getting into the front of that thigh and the hip and into that psoas muscle, deep breath here, you might sigh the breath out here to help these powerful muscles let go and then twist here, so putting the upper arm against that thigh, I like to work with the lower hand in a fist, upper palm so in this case the right palm on top of that left fist and you can stay right here or tuck the back toes if you like to come up off the back knee, as you choose head in whatever position your neck is happy about, couple more breaths here and then carefully release, we're stepping back to plank, take an inhale here, exhale slowly down, work on those shoulders drawing back the whole way down, you can go to cobra or upward dog on your inhale and then downward dog on the exhale, take a moment here to feel your breath moving your ribs, you might shake out your head a little as you exhale and then when you're ready left leg up behind you, inhaling here pressing away the floor on the exhale step all the way up, use your core to get up between those hands, take the back foot over a little to the right, we're going to sweep up into warrior one, find your feet here nice and strong through the inner legs, firm belly, you might spiral the hands as we've been doing in some of the other episodes, palms turn out and then rotate back in to get that nice feeling in the shoulders of wrapping away from the ears.

Now arms float down, clasp hands behind you, I'm going to roll the shoulders back, breathe up high in your chest, really lifting your heart, take another breath here and on the exhale fold forward, so heavy head, long neck, shoulders lifting, deep breath here, you might want to sigh this one out and then float the arms down, so we're putting a hand again on either side of the front foot, coming onto the toes of the back foot, you might readjust that foot a little so you feel like you're in a comfortable place and then left arm goes up on the inhale to twist here, again have your head in some place that your neck is happy about, shouldn't be straining, get light through the joints as you breathe here, and then float that arm down, back knee comes down, feel free to give yourself extra padding under that knee, may as well be nice to the only kneecaps you have, left hand goes on left thigh, right arm up and over, as you reach up and over here, keep your belly firm, feel for a sense of lengthening through the front of that thigh, quadriceps, hip flexors up into that big juicy soles muscle, and it helps to sigh the breath out here, as you ask these intense muscles to let go, and then twisting, right arm over left thigh, fist with the right hand, left palm goes on top of it, you could stay right here, plenty to work with, or tuck back toes if you like, to come up off the back knee, nice slow deep breath through the twisty shape, staying with your present experience, and then carefully release and step back to plank, I want you to hold plank for a moment, take a breath here and hold your breath in, as you hold your breath, try rounding your upper back without lifting your butt too much, like you're hollowing your chest and lifting off the upper arms, and then come down nice and slow, with the shoulders drawing back, the whole way down, elbows over the wrists, even slower, until you arrive on your belly and rest, okay so when you're ready, I'm going to come into a cobra position here, hands under your shoulders, so hands on the floor, right under your shoulders, feet are going to stay on the mat, as are your thighs and the front of your pelvis, we're just going to lift up on an inhale, and kind of draw the ribs forward and the shoulders back, and then lower down on an exhale, and you feel that new place that you've arrived in, in the front of your body, as you inhale come up, and as you exhale come down, do between one and three more like that, exhaling up, nice strong active from the butt down to the feet, exhaling down, last one if you're still with me, good and again, you can rest your head on your hands, take a breath there, and then lifting your head, take your hands back behind your back, and join your hands there, to lift your chest and roll the shoulders back, now that we've got the ribs drawn forward, lift your legs if that's comfortable, feel free to work with your legs on the floor if that feels better, you can hang your head a little here, really fill your chest with breath in this locust or boat pose variation, nice and deep, you might stay up for between one and three more breaths here, and when you're ready carefully release and rest as you breathe, sensing your whole body, notice what matters to you right now, is there something that's showing up today, as you practice that might take the form of an intention, an aspiration, something you want to focus on, let's see what's here, and for these next couple poses imagine breathing something in that relates to whatever your intention or aspiration your theme might be today, imagine breathing something out that relates to that intention, let there be colors and images, feelings and words really go there, really create a rich neural network, so we're engaging the brain here, so if you're ready join me, I'm going to bend one knee and reach back to grab the ankle, bend the other knee, reach back to grab that ankle and come into a boat pose, if this feels like too much you can go back to the boat pose with the hands clasped we were doing before, feet press away from head, shoulders roll back and I want you to hang the head slightly so your neck is easy, breathe up into your chest here, feel free to rest or take a couple more breaths, what are you breathing in, even if you're resting what are you breathing out, there might be some sound there on the exhale, and as you're ready resting again, a couple of nice deep breaths here, sigh it out if you like, notice the energy that you're generating in your body with these powerful poses, and as you're ready bring a hand under each shoulder, press back onto your knees, bring the knees underneath you, take a moment sitting right here, feel all that aliveness and radiance that's pulsing through you right now, so last back bend we'll do two different options of camel pose, so you're up on your knees, make sure your knees are comfortable on the floor, you can double up, you're mad if it's thinner than the one I'm using, and then hands are on your low back, I like to do this with the thumbs touching each other right above the sacrum and the fingers wrapping around the waist a little, I'm going to lift up, roll the shoulders back, I like to keep the head pretty straight, maybe the chin even down a little, you may enjoy having the head back, just depends on your neck, nice and strong through the legs, lifting and breathing here, and as you're ready resting, close the eyes, how's the energy now as you breathe, now for the last one, you could go back to the variation we were just in a moment ago, or if you like tuck the toes under like this, I'm going to put the hands on the heels and go slightly deeper, nice and strong through the belly and the thighs, chest lifting, shoulder drawing back, if you like head can hang back, I keep my chin close to my chest, let's go for seven slow deep breaths here, rest any time you need to, and what are you breathing in, focus on it, give it colors, images, feelings, words, how are you breathing out, go there, this is your practice, two more breaths if you can, and then carefully ease your way out of that, take a moment here with your hands palm up on your thighs, sit on your knees if you're comfortable or sit another way if you need to, let your eyes close, so this image I want to share with you from the radiance sutras by Lauren Roche, it's a translation of an ancient tantric text, it says ride the rhythm of your breath, the inhale filling you up, sustaining life, the exhale emptying you out, purifying life, this is the ceaseless throb, the rhythm of the cosmos itself, so enter these turning points where emptiness fills up and fullness empties out again, feel your breath rising and falling, and know that the roar of joy which set the galaxies in motion is still echoing in your body, notice if that gives you a particular feeling or image as you take your last couple breaths here, let it sigh out if you like, and notice where you're at right now with that intention or theme, you know sometimes something really meaningful will come and sometimes not, it's okay, it's the inquiry that matters and it could be that just working with that breath meditation like we were in those powerful backbend poses, maybe it brought something into clarity for you, and if not that's okay, just one more breath here, we're going to come into downward dog, so hands on the floor in front of you, toes stuck onto the mat, back to downward dog, I want you to walk side to side a little, kind of gingerly and just notice how your low back feels, we're just demanding a lot of that area, put your breath there, good, and then plant that left foot right leg comes up, I want you to straighten and bend the leg and feel free to be anywhere in between all the way square or all the way hanging open, just depending how your body feels, you may not know it first, so you can experiment, and again we're interacting with the front of the thigh and the hip flexors, the psoas muscle, inhale here, on the exhale step all the way through, we're going to sweep up and over to reverse warrior, so whatever's happened so far today, let yourself begin again now, feel the new shape, feel the breath moving through you, and on this inhale come up into warrior two, give yourself a moment here as you breathe to notice anything you like about this moment, what do you like right now, take it in a little more, could be subtle or powerful, could be familiar or totally novel, whatever it is, take in the good, and let's float down the arms, I want you to straighten the right leg and turn that foot in first, then turn the left foot out, the feet can come just a little closer to each other as we set up for triangle, so arms come out on the inhale, exhale carefully out over that leg, probably going to be somewhere on that shin and again the head wherever your neck is comfortable, for me looking down is good, holding steady firm belly, engaged in her thighs, and from here we'll float that hand down onto the hip, right hand comes down onto hip, left knee bends, we're transitioning to half moon, so find where that left hand needs to be for you on the floor, I like it diagonally across from the little toe, you might use a block here if you need to, when you feel ready the right arm can go up, nice and strong through the leg in the air, holding steady through your core, and as you're ready floating down, we'll come to plank facing the other way, shoulders draw back through your chaturanga, we'll go to cobra this time you could do upper dog if you want to, downward dog on the exhale, and walk again gingerly side to side, breathe into your low back, notice what you're feeling there, when you're ready left leg goes up and we'll straighten and bend, again hips could stay square or stack open, notice how it feels on this side, you may need different things on different sides on different days, we're going to exhale and step up between the hands, sweeping up and over for reverse warrior, notice how it feels on this side, hold your center, reach strong, find the place where your head feels natural, when you're ready up into warrior two again, so this time I want to have you turn your palms up, lift your chin and lift your chest even as you hold your center and plant your feet here, notice one thing you can access right now that evokes a sense of gratitude authentically for you, imagine whatever that is kind of raining down on you, let that feeling in, especially give it to the places that might need it, if you've been having a tough time, what are you all so grateful for, try one of those two part exhales and then just scan awareness through your body, arms can float down, left leg straightens, left foot turns in now, right foot turns out, you can bring the feet a little closer to each other, just finding the place that feels right and then arms nice and wide on the inhale, exhale carefully out over that leg, it's a triangle on this side, find your slow deep breath again, really aware of your body in this pose in this moment, and as you're ready, left hand floats down onto the hip, we'll bend the right knee, find the place for that right hand that supports your balance here in half moon, use a block if you need to, when you're ready, that left arm can come up, slow deep breath, as you're ready, floating the limbs down, we can step back to downward dog and on your exhale transition into child's pose, so really big breath in here as you come back down to earth, inside out, let's do that again, and then walking hands in, you're gonna come up to sitting now and I want to do double pigeon with you before we go into our final meditation for today, so the way I'm setting up for this, I have the left leg on top and I have the knees and the ankles pretty much stacked over each other, now if this is too intense, like if this knee is up here and your hip is just not up for where we're sitting, you can try drawing the lower foot in a little closer and often times that will be helpful, so adjust as needed here, you can support yourself on your hands again if your hips are not used to being in this kind of position, really take care of yourself and when you're ready here, just close the eyes and focus your breath right where you notice sensation now, let your jaw relax, let the breath be nice and deep, you might tune in again on that intention or theme that you chose earlier, play with the sense of breathing something in, breathing something out if that's meaningful for you today, let's take five more slow deep breaths, asking that hip to soften, see what happens if you let it out gently through the mouth, noticing the sensation quality, see what happens if you give it a little sound, notice the sensation, it's one more breath, and as you're ready, just carefully change sides, we might just extend the legs out for a moment in between and shake out the knees a little, wiggle your butt a little, let's see how the other side feels, it's not unusual for one side to be more restricted than the other, so again if you need to have that lower foot in a little closer, that can be a nice way to make it accessible, if you need to support yourself with one or both hands, that's fine. So when you're ready, let your eyes close here, would you have a version of the pose you're doing, and I should say that if this is just way too much, you can do that figure four pose on your back again that we've done in some of the other episodes with one leg crossed over the other on your back, reaching through and clasping hands, so whatever you're doing now, let the eyes close. What's it like on this side as you breathe into these sensations? Take your time, really long, slow breaths, a sense of being with yourself, feeling the shape of the pose, the sensations it creates, and the sense of being right here, right now with yourself, with whatever the experience is like. It's not unusual to have emotions sometimes or to really become aware of how harsh that internal dialogue can sometimes be.

Stay kind, stay present, keep breathing, see what it's like to let the breath out softly through the mouth. Notice if that affects the sensation quality, the energy if you will, another slow, deep breath, notice what it's like if you let there be a little sound. Take three more breaths here in whatever way is feeling natural to you. Last breath, and then carefully release. You can let your eyes open, maybe bounce out the knees again gently, shake out the hips a little.

Good, so we're going to get set up now for the closing meditation. If you need to put something under your hips, go ahead, I'm going to grab my blanket right here. So find your comfortable seated position, and when you feel ready, let your eyes close here, sitting up nice and tall, head over spine, shoulders over hips. Feel where you're touching the floor, the air against your skin, the placement of your hands, these are all easy ways into body awareness. Feel the breath rising and falling.

So we'll start with awareness of your body going through this particular sequence, and then we'll just sit and bear witness to whatever's happening. Start with your hands and your fingers. Notice any sensations there as you breathe, breath rising and falling as you sense your hands and fingers. And then transition to your face, be aware of your lips and your tongue, and all through your face, your cheeks and your nose, your eyes, your chin, your scalp, just feeling the whole area. Let your jaw relax a little more.

Notice those sensations as you give your jaw permission to let go, and you might feel how that helps the base of your skull to relax a little, right where the back of the neck meets your head. Now you can drop awareness deep into your belly. Feel all the way from the inside of your belly through your low back, your abdominal muscles just sensing that area as you breathe in and out. And then let the awareness spread through the midsection into your chest and your upper back, just drawing your attention there, sensing upper back and chest as you breathe. Let the awareness travel into your neck and your throat, feeling all the way through that area around your neck and throat, and then pouring through your shoulders into your arms, upper arms and elbows, forearms, wrists, hands and fingers again, sensing, turning on awareness, inhabiting the shape of your body.

Drop the awareness all the way down to your feet and your toes. Feel your feet and toes, any sense of temperature, any sense of dryness or moistness, any sensations there. And then from your feet and toes, go right into your hips. Feel where your sit bones are touching the floor. Feel through your hips and your groin, your pelvis as you take a breath here.

And on your next exhale, it's like you're pouring the awareness, the energy down through your legs, feeling inner and outer thighs, front and back of thighs, into the knees, the calves and ankles, feet and toes. As you sit in your center now aware of your whole body, aware of your breath rising and falling. Notice now anything that's moving through your awareness, any sensations or sounds, any thoughts or feelings. So without looking for anything, just be open, let the breath anchor you as it rises and falls and just observe. There's no right or wrong experience and whatever shows up, just keep observing that.

Obviously you might be observing your boredom or your self-criticism or your confusion that you think you're not doing it right. Observe that. You might be observing the air against your skin or the sound of a passing car or that emotion that you haven't had time to deal with this week. Just keep observing with a kind curiosity, openness. Let's play a little game where we notice different streams of experience.

Notice your capacity to hear sounds, just notice any sounds that are happening and the way those sounds kind of come towards you, they come into your center as you're sitting here breath, rising and falling, aware of sound. Good, now sit with your ability to be aware of sensations and how sensations show up in your awareness as you sit in your center. Any sensations that might be subtle or intense, you may or may not be able to name them, just experience sensation. Might be warmth or coolness, tingling, prickling, itching, tightness, softness. Anything else?

Now notice your capacity to be aware of either thoughts or emotions, maybe both, maybe one or the other, whatever you can notice right now. Maybe there's lots of thoughts or feelings coming and going, maybe there's not much happening, that's okay, just observing. And so last one, play now with what it's like to be aware of awareness, aware of awareness itself, like it's folding in to look at itself. Just hang out with it for a minute or so as your breath rises and falls, aware of awareness. What's that like?

There we go. Good, and now bring your awareness back to your body, feel yourself sitting right here right now, honoring whatever the experience of your practice has been like on this particular day. I'll leave you with these words from David White, I always imagine him at the end of a meditation retreat when he recites this poem, he says, enough, these few words are enough, if not these words then this breath, if not this breath then this sitting here, this opening to the life we have refused again and again, until now, until now. So if you're ready let your eyes open, bring your hands together, thank you so much for joining me today.

Comments

Alison L
My first class with you. Thank you for this beautiful practice of self inquiry and awareness through movement and breath :)
Julian
so glad it was meaningful and useful for you Alison, i hope you enjoy my other classes too!
Julian
PS: i am delighted to announce i now have custom designed playlists you can synchronize with these classes, for a more full spectrum experience!! here's the playlist for the above class: https://www.mixcloud.com/julianmarcwalker/flow-into-awareness-soundtrack-for-yoga-anytime-online-class/
Sam
Sam
2 people like this.
Again a wonderful practice. I am dealing with severe pain down my right leg from hip to foot and my right foot is numb and I thought I wouldn't be able to do most of the practice but with your gentle stretching and kind encouragement I even did half moon. My foot just floated up. I probably won't be able to walk later lol but right now I feel blissful. Thank you
Catherine R
1 person likes this.
What a wonderful, calming practice. Just what I needed this morning. Your final words were very moving, and I hope to carry them with me as I start my day.
Julian
that makes me happy, Catherine —be well. :)
Julian
awwww sam, that is fantastic. be gentle with that leg! Sam
Johanna L
2 people like this.
ABsolutly loved this practice. All the words combined with the movement gave me a spiritual experience. And the end words. Enough. Yes. That was strong for me. Namaste from Sweden.
Julian
1 person likes this.
thanks for letting me know Johanna that makes me happy!
Karen B
1 person likes this.
Hi Julian I found your positional cues really helpful, particularly the transition from triangle > half moon and I love the pace of this session. Thank you
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